So it's nearly the end of the year and I'm thinking about possibly doing one of those end of the year-end "best of" post thingies, alternately thinking about stuff from 2010 - "Oh, that was brilliant" and "Frick, I can't remember what the hell that was."
But it's also Christmas Eve, and I'm in Hawaii visiting my parents. And today I went to my favorite place in the world, ate my favorite cookies in the world, helped my mother make terrible cinnamon buns (for serious, the things were like lead paperweights covered in brown sugar), and had a delicious meal with my two beloved parents, who both gave me great advice and a few laughs.
OH, and did I mention that my favorite place in the world is a beach called Bellows here on Oahu where at the age of nine I learned to bodysurf?
(Insert unbelievably gorgeous shot of Bellows here. No really, it's just spectacular. You'll have to just take my word for it for now.)
Yes, about 1pm Hawaii time today I was lounging in 75 degree water of a color that falls somewhere between Paul Newman's eyes (when he was alive - duh) and the world's largest emerald I saw in Istanbul when I was seven.
I like to enter slowly, allowing the waves to wet me as I go, waiting for a swell that's just so so I can race up to it as it crests, then turn and leap forward, one stroke, two, then angling down and forward, dolphin-like (well, I hope so anyway) as the swell pitches me forward and the roar fills my ears and the white foam bubbles up and over and consumes me.
Today the waves were tiny, and the dozen people on the glowing golden beach with me were bobbing and waiting and not catching anything. The sand there's like powder, sprinkled in spots with broken up bits of blue plastic something-or-others that the waves have beat on until they're almost beautiful and almost belong. My mom has these bright pink beach towels that I borrow to sit on and dry myself off with. They clash with my hair, but Bellows is the sort of place where you can't be bothered to care about things like that. You don't care that the Christmas cookies have added an extra pound or two to your waist or that you haven't gotten very far on your latest writing project, or that your ancient cat is probably dreaming about killing you back in LA, or about anything, really, except the clear water fanning out over the smoothed beach like a caressing hand that withdraws just soon enough.
So it didn't matter that the waves were less than optimal, or that a large black cloud loomed over the mountains signalling it was all temporary. In the water I lounged on my back and poked my toes with their silly purple nail polish up into the air. I eyed the waves for any sort of surfing prospect and felt the full weight of the tropical sun on my right shoulder and cheekbone. (Thank Neptune for SPF.)
A woman in a baseball cap walked her daughter into the water behind me and encouraged her to try to catch a wave, holding her hands out, talking about when to jump, when to wait. My father had done the same for me, umpteen gajillion years ago. So I got fancy and caught a wave so I could zoom past them. "See?" said the Mom. Even redheaded, freckle-faced girls whose ancestors stole horses in the mists of Ireland can ride the waves at Bellows.
All of which is to say that instead of naming things that were the best this year, all I can think about tonight is how lucky I am to be here on Christmas, with the people I love, with a chance to be in a place that makes my soul burn bright.
Aloha and Merry Christmas, everyone. I hope you're spending this time in whatever place and with whatever people do the same for you.